Thunderbolt cameras on show at Vision 2014

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Vision 2014 in Stuttgart, held from 4 to 6 November, saw the first cameras displayed with a Thunderbolt interface. Thunderbolt is a joint development by Apple and Intel which is becoming more widespread in consumer electronics.

Allied Vision and Ximea were both demonstrating Thunderbolt cameras, although Allied Vision’s model was a prototype and the company has not yet disclosed whether the product will be made available.

In a statement, Allied Vision said it ‘sees high potential in this new interface [Thunderbolt] for machine vision, especially for multi-camera operation’.

Thunderbolt 2 achieves up to 20Gb/s, which is 20 times GigE bandwidth and four times USB 3.0. With such a throughput, high frame rates would be possible even with high resolution sensors.

Another advantage of Thunderbolt is that, like with FireWire, it is possible to network up to six cameras with each other in a chain with only one end of the chain connected to the host. This makes Thunderbolt attractive for high-performance multi-camera image-processing systems.

Ximea was displaying xiLab Thunderbolt cameras equipped with the sensors from Sony (IMX174) and Cmosis (CMV20000). The MT200 model is based on the 20 megapixel Cmosis sensor, which can achieve 30 frames per second in the 12-bit mode thanks to the 20Gb/s interface.

The MT023 camera incorporates a Sony IMX174 sensor, delivering full sensor resolution of 2.3 megapixels at 12 bits per pixel at 128fps, or 10 bits per pixel at 165fps. The camera has a data throughput of 10Gb/s.

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